Military of BangladeshThe Bangladesh Army, Navy, and Air Force are composed of regular military personnel. Some of the senior officers and noncommissioned officers served in the Pakistan military before the 1971 independence war. Senior officers include "repatriates" who were interned in Pakistan during the war, and "freedom fighters" who fought against Pakistan. The 110,000-member, seven-division army is modeled and organized along British lines, similar to other armies on the Indian subcontinent. However, it has adopted U.S. Army tactical planning procedures, training management techniques, and noncommissioned officer educational systems. It is also eager to improve its peacekeeping operations capabilities and is working with the U.S. military in that area. The Bangladesh Air Force is acquiring four U.S. C-130 B transport aircraft. These aircraft will improve the military's disaster response and peacekeeping capabilities. The Air Force also has recently procured eight MiG 29 fighters from Russia for $124 million. The Bangladesh Navy is mostly limited to coastal patrolling, but it is paying to have an ULSAN class frigate built in South Korea. It is supported by artillery, armored, and combat units.
In addition to traditional defense roles, the military has been called on to provide support to civil authorities for disaster relief and internal security. The Bangladesh Air Force and Navy, with about 7,000 personnel each, perform traditional military missions. A Coast Guard has been recently formed, under the Home Ministry, to play a stronger role in the area of anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, and protection of offshore resources. Recognition of economic and fiscal constraints has led to the establishment of several paramilitary and auxiliary forces, including the 40,000-member Bangladesh Rifles; the Ansars and Village Defense Parties Organization, which claims 64 members in every village in the country; and a 5,000-member specialized police unit known as the Armed Polic. The Bangladesh Rifles, under the authority of the Home Ministry, are commanded by army officers who are seconded to the organization.
In addition to in-country military training, some advanced and technical training takes place abroad, including grant-aid training in the United States. China, Pakistan, and eastern Europe are the major defense suppliers to Bangladesh, but military leaders are trying to find affordable alternatives to Chinese equipment.
In 1995 the Bangladesh Air Force made its largest purchase from the U.S to date: 12 T-37 jet trainers. More recently, Bangladesh procured four C-130 transport aircraft. A 2,300-member Bangladesh Army contingent served with coalition forces during the 1991 Gulf war. Bangladesh is currently the second-leading contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, with an infantry battalion in UNIKOM (Kuwait), an engineer battalion in UNTAET, (East Timor) and another infantry battalion scheduled for service in Sierra Leone in May 2000.
Military branches: Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, paramilitary forces (includes Bangladesh Rifles, Bangladesh Ansars, Village Defense Parties, National Cadet Corps), Armed Police battalions
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 34,683,414 (2000 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 20,565,193 (2000 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $559 million (FY96/97)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.8% (FY96/97)